As I sit here on the couch, drinking coffee and trying to wake up after a little less than 5 hours of sleep, I can’t help but reflect on the last 18 hours of my work as a nurse. It’s no secret that nurses work long hours, shift work, weekends, holidays, etc. — of course we aren’t the only profession to do so. But what aren’t so obvious are the sacrifices made on the job on nearly every shift.
Last night, as per a usually busy night, we survived on bites of Halloween candy scarfed down for “dinner”. I think I finally sat down for about 15 minutes at 0400, to do staffing for the oncoming shift, about 9 hours after I had clocked in. My amazing coworker, who by the way is 7 months pregnant, also survived this way. At one point she had to change her shoes to give her feet a break because of how long she’d been standing at the bedside of a very critical baby. (Sarah Willis, you the real MVP.)
We worked continuously, like a well-oiled machine, giving our all, sacrificing our own needs for the best outcome of the baby. We helped resuscitate, placed IVs, gave medications, assisted with multiple procedures, made endless phone calls to pharmacy/lab/imaging/doctors/nurse practitioners, all the while keeping a composed but kind demeanor for the family as they watched on, terrified.
I don’t share all this for thanks, or kudos, or praise. In fact, I’m hesitant to share at all, and I usually don’t. But this work happens inside the walls of the hospital every hour, of every shift, of every day, as the world continues on outside. As I get ready to go back to work tonight, I can’t help but feel a little emotionally drained, but not because of the night we had last night. It is draining to feel SO very unappreciated by your employer, to know all the sacrifices we make as nurses for our patients, only to be told we are having our well-deserved sick time taken away, our PTO hours cut, lack of commitment to safe staffing language, staffing that is required to do the work like we did last night.
It is so very disheartening to know that should my OWN babies get sick, I have to weigh burning precious hours to stay home with them when they need me most, or consider going to work in order to save those hours for the “what if’s” of the future. So lately, while my Facebook page might be flooded with WSNA posts, and strike information, and union strong posts, it is for these reasons.
We deserve to be appreciated. We deserve to be able to take a “mental health day”, or to stay home with our sick kids if they need us. We deserve to feel safe when we go to work. We deserve safe staffing, to be able to provide the very best care possible for our patients. We deserve these things, but most importantly, our patients deserve us at our very best, on what could be one of the worst days of their life. ❤